Representatives from Father Hudson's Care, the Columban Missionaries, Caritas, the Archdiocese of Birmingham and a local parish welcomed guests to celebrate the official opening of Fatima House on Sunday.
Fatima House is a new partnership project that offers short-term shelter to female asylum seekers who are destitute and in the process of a renewed asylum claim. Just a few short months after the first referral for support was made, it is almost full with eight women staying there who would otherwise be homeless. The women hail from a wide range of countries across Africa and the Middle East.
The official launch brought together people from across the Archdiocese for a service of thanksgiving and prayers. Mauricio Silva of the Columban Missionaries, Project Co-ordinator, introduced the event and accompanied the hymns on his guitar. Fr Jim Fleming, Mgr Pat Browne and Mgr Tim Menezes led the service, with partner organisations and parishioners reading the bidding prayers.
Mgr Tim Menezes, Birmingham's Vicar General, spoke on behalf of Archbishop Longley, who has been incredibly supportive of Fatima House. He talked to those present about the legacy of the Year of Mercy.
Members of the Fatima House Management Committee and Steering Group spoke about the project, the support it gives to the women staying there and the hopes for the future. Columban Lay Missionaries showed small groups around Fatima House.
A number of the women who are staying there attended the launch and spoke to people afterwards. They said they were 'overwhelmed' by the number of people who wanted to show their support and interest in Fatima House.
There was a strong turnout at the launch, with over 80 people coming to learn about the new project and how the legacy of the Year of Mercy is continuing.
Andy Quinn, Chief Executive of Father Hudson's Care and chair of the Steering Group, said: "On arriving at the launch I was surprised to see so many people were there, as it had been kept deliberately low-key and discreet in order to respect the privacy and dignity of those who are staying there.
"However, I have been constantly surprised by Fatima House since the very beginning. By the incredible generosity of Father Pat and the parish in making the house available and the Archdiocese in preparing it; by the commitment of Father Michael and the Columbans and Father Hudson's who were determined that it should come to be; by the support of the SVP, Catholic, ecumenical, and sister organisations and so many individuals. I should not be surprised, but am sure I will continue to be."
Fatima House continues to need donations of toiletries, long-life milk, tinned vegetables and other non-perishable food. They are hoping to throw a Christmas celebration for the women and so are appealing for Christmas crackers and soft drinks.
Fatima House is a partnership project between the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Father Hudson's Care, the Columban Missionaries, Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, and a Birmingham parish. It offers shelter to female asylum seekers who would otherwise face destitution and homelessness while they renew their asylum claim. Women are referred to Fatima House by partner agencies including SVP, Brushstrokes Sandwell and the Red Cross. The referring agencies will provide immigration and asylum support and advice.
As the principal social care agency of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Father Hudson's Care helps people in need to improve their quality of life. The charity provides adult care for disabled people, older people and those living with dementia, finds loving foster homes for children and young people unable to live with their birth families, and offers post-adoption and post-care services. It supports isolated older people and provides support workers in schools to help children and families experiencing difficulties. With its community partners, it supports at-risk women and families, destitute refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, those who are isolated and people affected by domestic violence.
For more information about Fatima House, contact [email protected] or call Father Hudson's Care on 01675 434000.
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